Main Street East

Route Stop 13

Next Stop -#14 Fishmarket Square
Overview Businesses on Main Street (East) The Italian Connection The Willow Tree Legend

From Needles to Anchors

The womenfolk of Newhaven heard most of the local news just by going shopping.  In the days before refigeration, this was a daily occurrence or perhaps every other day.  Everything that a housewife needed was only a few hundred yards away on Newhaven Main Street.

Shopping bag in hand, off the lady of the house would go, meeting friends and neighbours on the way and in the various shops.  If Mum was too busy, she would send one of her children to the shops with a “message line”, i.e. a shopping list, quite frequently with the required amount of money wrapped up in it. Some shops gave “tick” (credit) which would be paid off regularly.

The key to the businesses is to be found below.

The Klondyke

Immediately opposite to this spot, across the street, were a number of tenement buildings, one of which was known by all locals as the Klondyke since it was built at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1895-99.   The four storey building located at Anchorfield (Stop 5), that you visited previously, was known informally for a time as Dawson City, for the same reason. 

Below the houses at street level was a complex of shops. A small lane to the left of the Klondyke led to Parliament Square and a small vennel of forestair houses. The entrances to the Klondyke houses were at the rear. On the right-hand side of  the building was the Pend (a small lane that brought you to a wood yard).

3_3208 The Klondyke was the major building and landmark on Main Street. Below the houses was a complex of shops including an ice cream parlour and cafe, and various departments of Leith Provident. Photo courtesy of The Liston Legacy

Credit to Myra and Flora

On the south side of Main St were shops of many types, well patronised by the community.   On the page called ‘Businesses on Main Street (East)’, a lady that grew up in the village during the 50s and 60s, Myra Jamieson, writes about her experiences ‘going the messages’ (doing the shopping) locally for her mother.

Flora Rutherford, another child of the 40s and 50s, helped to compile the map above, which lists all 83 of Newhaven’s shops and businesses!


3_3226 Main Street South Side near St Andrew's (now Fishmarket) Square showing a mixture of shops and houses. Houses above the street level houses have forestairs for access. Taken about 1965, TV aerials are more commonplace now. Photo courtesy of The Liston Legacy.
Previous Stop - #12 Newhaven’s Back StreetsNext Stop -#14 Fishmarket Square